Just in case you haven't seen it today on ESPN.com John Buccigross previewed the playoff matchups for both conferences (He picked the Wings in 7, but that's a different matter). While doing so he had on an interesting bit of hockey gear that had the twitterers a bit bothered. That item? A Winnipeg Jets t-shirt. Sure, maybe it's just a shirt, but I see why it caused a row between fans of the Phoenix Coyotes and well, other fans of the Phoenix Coyotes and also other random fans from Winnipeg and other places.
See, for some teams wearing their throwback or defunct logos is a tribute, it's history. I don't think, for example, anyone wearing a Hartford Whalers shirt or jersey would get much guff. Actually most people like the Whale wherever it goes. Or even the California Golden Seals. There's a snappy logo for ya. Even if they didn't last long. Even wearing the jerseys of teams that have relocated to the arena isn't a big deal for some. Rockies jerseys in New Jersey? Okay. North Stars shirts in Dallas? Ehhh... maybe. Nordiques sweaters in Colorado aren't usually thought of as being so bad. So what's the big deal? It just a dumb shirt. Except it's not in this case.
See, in all those other instances the vast majority of people see the logos and the gear and even the name of the team as something in the past. A relic of a team's path to where it is now, or just gear of teams that just flat out don't exist anymore. The Jets logo though has a different context at the moment. Rather than just being a celebrated part of the team's past it's a rallying symbol for those that want the team to move. Some Canadian, or just jerky, fans wear it and then proceed to make asses out of themselves at our arena. Online "fans" of the Winnipeg version of the team have it plastered on their twitter profiles, website, facebook pages etc. and use it as a flag of relocation support.
Sufficed to say wearing that logo is going to label you as someone that wants the team to move. If you wear it at the arena? People WILL think you're a douchebag. That's just the reality of it. I saw people talking about how it's just history, and maybe so to them, but to the population at large that's just not a fact. You disagree with that you should be labeled like that? Good for you, you're still going to be it's just a fact and no one is going to just get past it because you say so. I struggle to find examples of how this is similar to other logos/flags/icons without straying into too much hyperbole or into things that don't have a ton more meaning than what I'm going for. Let's put it this way: You can either fly your Coyotes flag or your Jets flag at the moment. There's not a whole lot of middle ground because if you're in the "I don't care either way" camp why wear either one?
While in past seasons the team may have payed tribute to it's former iteration by playing preseason games in Winnipeg and retiring numbers of Dale Hawerchuk, Thomas Steen and Bobby Hull, now it necessarily has to distance itself from that and be a Phoenix team rather than the Former WInnipeg team. So do the fans. Want to sport your "throwbacks" then insist you're a fan? Don't. At least not right now. Stuff your Jets sweater and hats in the closet for a while or get labeled with the rest of the people that sport it.
Did John Buccigross mean to be a supporter of relocation? I don't know. I really don't care all that much to be honest. I'm amazed ESPN took the time to even preview the playoffs. What hopefully he's learned today, and everyone else, is that logos and images have power and to Phoenix Coyotes fans you're going to be labeled as the enemy if you wear the logo of the Jets. Wouldn't you be pissed if someone was wearing a "Move the Coyotes" shirt or holding a similar sign? That's basically what you're doing.